This essay engages with visual cues that point to an afterlife of indentureship across a culture, history, and economics of labor, evident as a felt presence or absence in photographic representations of Caribbean persons. The author re-views photographs (both archival and artistic) taken in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with the aim of advancing a notion of indentureship, at once larger and more circumscribed than Indo-Caribbean identity. This goal is underscored by three premises: visualization connects documentary sources to their imaginative coordinates; dynamics of affect, memory, and history related to indentureship are mobilized in the photographic arts of the Caribbean diaspora; and the aesthetic is a conceptual space with cultural resonance for the descendants of indentured laborers. In essence, the author finds that visual evidence of an indentured past requires the arts of imagination to understand the invisible and visible currents still present.
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Nalini Mohabir; Picturing an Afterlife of Indenture. Small Axe 1 July 2017; 21 (2 (53)): 81–93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-4156798
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